The crazy world of travel permits for minors living in Uruguay

I don't want to be blasé about family life protections in Uruguay but, unless you are prepared, travel restrictions for resident minors are a real headache.
By Mark Teuten
Family life in Uruguay
Last updated on February 21, 2020

OK, OK I don’t want to be blasé about child abductions but Uruguay’s travel restrictions for minors resident in Uruguay—even when they have a non-Uruguayan passport—are kind of intense.

And if you’re planning your family life in Uruguay, you need to inform yourself about this. Though it’s not a deal breaker, it can be (excuse my French) a total ball breaker, if you’re not prepared.

When our son was a minor getting a travel permit for him was such a nightmare we ended up endowing him with the legal permission “to travel alone to any country in the world”–and he wasn’t even ten. It was totally freaky. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when he turned 18.

Guru’Guay’s resident lawyer adviser Mark Teuten goes into detail on minors permits. You must read this if you have kids and live or intend to live in Uruguay.

Uruguay has a strict legal regime to prevent children being taken from the country by a parent or third party without permission. It’s so strict that it frequently causes problems for foreigners who want to travel with their children. But it also catches out Uruguayans too. Here’s what you need to know about the process, what documents are required and when.

Who needs a travel permit in Uruguay?

The law states that all minors (under 18)

  1. Of Uruguayan nationality or
  2. Foreigners with permanent residence granted or applied for, or
  3. Who have been living in the country for a year or more

must get a permit to travel abroad unless they are traveling with both parents.

Note though that in this last case the parents must get a fresh copy of the minor’s birth certificate as registered at the Uruguayan civil registry–a process which itself takes about 30 days–to show that the child really is theirs. The copy must be less than 30 days old to be valid.

[Guru note: Feel exhausted already, dear parents?]

How to get a minor’s travel permit

  1. Book a date to apply via the website
  2. Get a new copy of the child’s birth certificate (less than 30 days old).
  3. Valid ID cards or passports of both parents and the minor in a good state of repair (note: the Immigration Office are getting very difficult about the state of repair of the old style ID cards)
  4. If minor is using a foreign passport issued in Uruguay, this must also be presented.

The different requirements according to your family situation

Child traveling without either parent Both parents must personally attend at the Immigration office and sign the permit.

Child traveling with one parent Only the parent not traveling must attend at the Immigration Office, but both parents’ ID must be shown and that of the minor.

Child whose parents are deceased A special authorization from a judge will be needed.

Child with one deceased parent The surviving parent must attend and have a copy of the death certificate of the other parent.

Child with a guardian A permit is not needed to travel with the guardian. If not traveling with the guardian, the guardian will have to attend and take a certified copy of their appointment.

Adopted children The adopting parents must attend and take an updated birth certificate which should contain a marginal note confirming the adoption details.

Is it possible to avoid the need for a travel permit?

Only if the minor is Uruguayan and has a Uruguayan passport. The passport acts as a permit from both parents to travel without restrictions. Uruguay passports for minors are issued for a standard period of 3 years [Guru note: Yeah, why did I expect that it would not be that easy].

Travel permit validity and restrictions

  1. Permits are valid for one year.
  2. Permits can be restricted to travel to a particular country/countries.
  3. Permits can specify with whom the child is allowed to travel.
  4. Permits can be for one trip or for multiple trips (subject to the 1 year limitation).
  5. In the case of minors who have applied for permanent resident status but it has not yet been granted they must also get a reentry permit from the Immigration Office.


The current cost of a travel permit for one trip is 277 pesos, around 7 USD at the time of writing. Add the same amount for each additional trip you add to the permit.

So what do we advise?

Make sure you book a date over the internet sufficiently in advance of the travel date and that you have all the documents that will be required. The advantage of the internet pre-booking system is that queuing is now minimal and the whole process should not take more than 30 minutes. And ensure that you have registered the child’s birth certificate at the civil registry well before any planned date of travel.

[Guru tip When our son was a minor we would get a permit for 8-12 trips a year and specify our son had our permission to travel alone to any country in the world. Imagine what it felt like putting this down on paper when he was under 10! Yup, it was totally freaky. But it was SO worth it not to have to return multiple times in a year. As additional trips were not expensive it was well worth paying for more trips than less. I can’t tell you how relieved we were when he turned 18.]

COVID Updates

  • Birth certificates registered after 2012 are now available on line free of charge. Certificates registered prior to 2012 can be ordered online, but you will need to go to the Civil Registry personally to pick them up, which at the moment because of Covid restrictions can lead to delays.
  • Registration of foreign birth certificates is currently taking 1-2 months.

By Ana Lia Mendez and Mark Teuten.

Mark Teuten is a British lawyer based in Montevideo since the 1990s. He has law degrees from both the UK and Uruguay. He can help you with your residency applications, setting up a registered company and other legal matters. Guru’Guay has recommended him to our readers who have praised his trustworthiness, clarity, prompt communication even over great distances and careful advice regarding courses of action.

UPDATE: This article was originally published on March 15, 2018.

This article is for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer as to your particular circumstances.



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4 Responses

  1. Can you direct me to an answer to a related by slightly different question? My family and I live in the United States. I am going to be in Buenos Aires for 10 weeks (end of August until the beginning of November) with my 16 year old son. My wife and I will sign a notarized document here saying that he can travel with me abroad. I was hoping to go to Uruguay once or twice (Colonia and Monetevideo). But when I read the Uruguayan embassy website, it seems to suggest that my wife and I would have to go to a US consulate office in the United States to sign more papers there. Am I understanding that correctly? (My wife will be with us at the beginning of our trip. Perhaps we could use the Uruguan Embassy in Buenos Aires?)

  2. Si l’enfant naît en Uruguay il est Uruguayen il peut donc avoir le passeport uruguayen aussi, selon le 4 ème point ” Est-il possible d’éviter le besoin d’un permis de voyage? ” Ce n’est du coup plus un problème. Je ne vois ni la corvée ni le gâchis dans ces conditions là ??
    D’un autre côté ce même 4 ème point contredit la toute première ligne du premier point non? Ou alors c’est un uruguayen sans passeport qui ne peut voyager sans permis? Ce qui me semble logique. Un enfant français ne peut pas prendre l’avion a l’étranger sans passeport donc je ne trouve pas ce point si étonnant …. cordialement

  3. wow this is confusing. so how does a minor uruguayan child get out of the country with a permit if they dont have a passport? I guess if they go to a mercosur country? Thinking of having our child in uruguay but this sounds like a mess…

    1. Hi Ryan, yes, a child could travel to Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) on their ID card (known as a ‘cedula’) alone. I’d say it’s a hassle, rather than a mess. Best, Karen

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